Latest Updates: Ongoing Recovery Efforts for CAPSTONE Spacecraft


The CAPSTONE mission is planned for launch no earlier than May 2022. Rocket Lab’s Photon satellite bus will deliver CAPSTONE into a trajectory toward the Moon. Credit: Illustration by NASA/Daniel Rutter

On Thursday evening, September 8, the CAPSTONE spacecraft executed a planned trajectory correction maneuver. Near the end of that maneuver, CAPSTONE went into safe mode. Subsequently, mission controllers discovered that the spacecraft was tumbling and the onboard computer systems were periodically resetting.

Now, the CAPSTONE team continues to work on recovery efforts. At this time, the primary ongoing focus is to heat the spacecraft’s propulsion system, as it dropped below its operational temperature limit following the initial issue that put the spacecraft into safe mode on September 8.

Over the past few days, CAPSTONE’s power has been limited by the orientation of the spacecraft in its spin relative to the Sun. However, it appears to be sufficient for heating of the propulsion system. After the spacecraft propulsion system temperature has been at a temperature of at least 41° F (5° C) for a minimum of 12 hours, the team will further evaluate the system for use in the recovery operation.

Communications with the spacecraft have also improved. This has provided mission teams with more data from the spacecraft. Currently, teams are still evaluating the data to determine the cause of the problems and design recovery procedures to avoid similar issues during the attempted recovery operation.    

Read the full update from Advanced Space, which owns CAPSTONE on behalf of NASA. Additional updates will be provided here as available. 

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